In 2021, yli young people demanded that the City of Merced use ARPA funding to invest in their wellness by creating a Youth Wellness Center. For the most part, their demands were not heard but a couple of the city council members took note.
In May of 2022, the youth took up their advocacy efforts during the City’s fiscal year budget cycle. They repeated their demands for a Youth Wellness Center, but once again the city council was not able to make it happen.
It was at this point that a funding opportunity came to the City’s and youth’s attention. The youth and adult allies showed up to ask the city to submit a proposal. Program Manager, Jesse Ornelas worked with the City Manager and was able to get the city council to approve the submission of an RFP.
After 60 days of waiting, the State of California and the City was awarded $977,647.00 annually. This funding will open the City’s newest department, called the Office of Neighborhood Safety. It is through this office that the new Youth Wellness Center will open next year in the heart of South Merced.